Was Kurt Russell the inspiration for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood?

The question author Stephen King gets most often is “Where do you get your ideas?” Now I’ve always felt that that question is like asking “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” It’s an exercise in futility. Where creatives get their ideas is legion. There’s no one set place. Having said that, there’s no denying artists pull inspiration from real life situations. Director Quentin Tarantino is no different.

In a recent interview on Late Night With Seth Myers, Quentin Tarantino was asked about a variety of topics including the films that defined his formative years. The conversation eventually turned to his latest magnum opus ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, a love letter to Golden Age Hollywood. The film is shot through the lens of aging television star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his relationship with friend and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Unprompted, Tarantino revealed to Myers the inspiration behind ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD.

Quentin Tarantino admitted that the concept behind ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD had been kicking around in his brain for several years, but it wasn’t until filming a previous movie that the idea began to crystalize. Tarantino recounted a story where he saw one of his actors laughing and smoking with his stuntman. It was clear that the two had a long-standing and friendly relationship. The director described the person as somewhat of a former action star, although he declined to name the actor or the movie in question. In any event it was the actor’s relationship with his stuntman that finally gave Tarantino an “in” to the story.

As I mentioned, Tarantino wouldn’t name the actor in question, however I think the choices are pretty limited. Quentin Tarantino has been known to work with the same actors on multiple projects including guys like Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth. However, none of those guys are people I’d consider action stars. The closest, most logical person I can think of is Kurt Russell. Russell has starred in a number of action films including SOLDIER, TANGO & CASH, BACKDRAFT, and ESCAPE FROM L.A. Hell the guy played an actual stuntman in Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF.

Regardless of the inspiration, ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD has been an unqualified success with both fans and critics. As we delve further into award season, it’s already garnering heavy consideration especially in the acting, directing, writing, and picture categories. Quentin Tarantino himself just received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. The film was also nominated for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt.

So what do you guys think? Was Kurt Russell the inspiration behind ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD? If not Russell who else do you think it might have been? Sound off in the comments below!

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